Self-employed mum takes Universal Credit to court

A self-employed mum has won permission to bring a judicial review of the government’s decision to apply the minimum income floor (MIF) to her universal credit claim.

Charmaine Parkin, 34, argues in her High Court case against the DWP that by applying the MIF, she is reportedly left with only £8.98 a month to live on and look after her two children.

If successful, the Brighton-based actor’s case could help the legions of self-employed people and others with fluctuating incomes who campaigners say get penalised by the MIF.

This is because under Universal Credit, and once 12 months of self-employment is over, the MIF substitutes a deemed amount of profit in any month in which the actual profit is lower.

'Impossible'

In Ms Parkin’s case, one month she earned only £96 but, due to how the MIF operates, was treated as if she had earned a whopping £788.26 – the level of the MIF that the DwP set.

Her Universal Credit payment was therefore reduced by £375.64, making it “impossible for her to pay her rent and meet essential living costs,” say the actor’s lawyers Leigh Day.

As a result and, due to every £1 of assumed earnings over and above £192 reducing a claimant’s UC award by 63p, it actually works out better for Ms Parkin if she didn’t work at all.

“Giving up her work seems to be the only way to receive the amount of assistance that would be sufficient to feed her family and keep a roof of their heads,” said Leigh Day.

“An unemployed individual in her position would have almost £400 a month more in UC and this amount would help her cover essential living expenses for herself and her children.”

'Delighted'

Ms Parkin, who is “delighted” at being granted permission to challenge the benefit in court, said: “It cannot be right that a system designed to help support people in work has resulted in some people being better off if they give up their work.”

One of her solicitors, Tom Short said: “[Charlene] is one of the many self-employed people suffering from the application of the MIF.

“The effect of the MIF is particularly harsh on those who work in areas such as the entertainment industry and farming where fluctuations in income are common. Our client’s situation shows just how illogical and inconsistent the universal credit system is and we look forward to putting her arguments to the court.”

 

7th March 2019

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